A MAN who led police on a high-speed car chase after a “burnout” has avoided a prison sentence.
Benjamin Kirk was charged with high-range drink driving, leading police in a pursuit at speed and prolonged loss of traction after police nabbed him doing burnouts following his birthday celebrations last year.
The 22-year-old appeared in Armidale Local Court on Monday for sentencing after pleading guilty to the three charges.
Defence solicitor Glen Kee told the court his client had been trying hard to take control of his life since the charges were laid, had made a concerted effort to avoid “falling into a deep depression”.
“He’s engaging with a counsellor, he’s engaging with a psychologist,” Mr Kee said.
“The references speak very highly of him.”
He said Kirk’s employer had been “bending over backwards” to keep him on staff and told the court his client needed to drive in his employment as a plumber.
“Mr Kirk is focused on his work,” Mr Kee said.
“He hasn’t missed a day in 18 months.”
Mr Kee told the court his client knew his actions could lead to a jail term, however, said the police chase, which followed the burnout, was over quickly.
“The pursuit … was of a short duration,” Mr Kee said.
“It was approximately 20 seconds.”
Magistrate Michael Holmes said the burnout was an “anti-social action” and told Kirk his drink driving could have led to greater consequences.
“You could have killed yourself or you could have killed someone else,” Magistrate Holmes said.
“You could have been charged with the death of someone else as the result of drink driving.
“The court has to balance the view of sentencing with community needs.”
Magistrate Homes referred to Kirk’s history, making note of a previous drink driving charge for which he was given a conditional discharge.
“You were given a chance on that occasion,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have done that. You haven’t learnt from your actions.”
For the burnout Kirk was fined $1000 and disqualified from driving for three years, and was fined a further $1500 for his drink driving charge.
He was also given a 12 month prison sentence for both the pursuit charge and the drink driving offence.
But jail time was fully suspended on the condition Kirk report to probation officers, engage in alcohol addiction counselling as well as anger and grief management.
Magistrate Holmes also made an order for Kirk to be taken into police custody while his papers were processed by court officers.
“You’re going to be off the road for three years,” he said.
“You are warned.
“Come back before me, you’ll go to jail.”
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